Those of us who were in our teens and 20s in the ’60, we pilgrims who walked Sunset Boulevard in the neon punctuated darkness of the hot summer nights, remember him.

He was there on stage with The Byrds, fronted by Jim McGuinn (who became Roger) and his gorgeous 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, up there with Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Michael Clark. He was David Crosby.

Well, here he is today on a ranch in California, showing all 77 years on his paunch, face, hair and decaying flesh, having survived, according to his list, three heart attacks, eight stents, diabetes, a liver transplant and the spittle of friends on his face.

Here on the screen in A.J. Eaton’s and Cameron Crowe’s beautifully shot, colorful, floating panorama of the past, we get the legend, the two time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icon, the liar, drunk, addict, betrayer, in one rambling, gorgeous 95 minutes.

In 25 or so minutes of the documentary, we see the child David playing with a toy guitar, trying to engage his well-known cinematographer father who taps his head and looks away. Even in the old black-and-white snapshots of summer lawn moments, you can see the distance between them growing deeper and darker.

But here he is, and he is old, fighting long, straggly white hair corralled by a knitted red cap someone once knitted for him. Without the cap, and quietly standing in the sunny fields, you can imagine that if you gave a child crayons and paper and said draw a picture of God, it would look like Crosby.

A lot of good moments are here, and beautifully spliced in, but there is no one around now but his wife Jan of 32 years, who sits home in the big, beautiful house in the Santa Ynez Valley, waiting for him to come home from a tour, where young and old still turn out in record numbers.

We listen to David spewing out memories from inside the director’s big black SUV, about the seductive kiss of heroin, and the much sweeter kiss of once-upon-a-time lover Joni Mitchell.

Facts, ugly and snarly, leap out of this gorgeously filmed documentary: Crosby, in the ’80s, did nine months in prison on weapons and drug offenses, drunken driving and a hit and run accident. There is probably more to learn if the producers would just put all of his old living friends on screen in a row of plastic chairs, and let them talk.

But talk they won’t. They don’t want to hear about him, speak his name or even see his picture. He broke hearts, they say, and muddied the name of rock ‘n’ roll. They frown, look down and think and spit out dagger words such as  “toxic” and “ abrasive.”

Stills, Nash, Young and McGuinn don’t even appear live to spit on his photo. We hear the venom, see their distaste, but only in archival snippets.

The doc is titled “Remember My Name.” Despite their heartbreak and anger, they will all remember. I’m betting that when the grave diggers shovel dirt onto his box they’ll be there. Because when great rock ‘n’ roll is played in Heaven, bad old David will be there to harmonize “You Don’t Have to Cry.”

If you’re old enough to have been there, or young enough to dream, “Remember My Name” will draw you in and wrap you in blankets of nostalgia.

 

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.


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